“What is in the bag?”
I often get this question when talking to fellow photographers or even on weddings when the enthusiastic uncle comes to have a chat. So I decided to make a post on the blog to have this question answered… and I can assure you, there’s no big secrets or magic things in it! Let’s see what is in the bag!
The contents of the bag changed during the years, from all film to all digital, to mainly film and completed by digital at this moment.
Mainly I work with two bags, one for film and one for digital. I bought my film camera bag in the first place to be comfy for destination weddings. Traveling a lot with a bunch of gear (read: weight), so that’s where the Think Tank Airport Take Off came in the picture.
It perfectly fits my complete film kit and as it is a trolley, the weight of all the gear isn’t that much of a problem. Even when rolling isn’t an option, Think Tank came up with the idea of adding back-pack straps to it. Good thinking!
Inside it fits neatly my 3 film cameras, all the required inserts, a light meter and all the lenses. In the smaller front bags, I can easily fit all batteries, filters, etc… This setup has been working for me now for over 3 years, so I don’t think I’m going to change this soon. Don’t change a winning horse.
So what cameras do I work with? What is in the bag? For my weddings I use the following film cameras and lenses:
- Pentax 645N (two bodies)
- Pentax 75mm 2.8 AF, which is great for general use, group-shots and has a good useable auto-focus
- Pentax 90mm 2.8 MF, my favourite. This is a great portrait and full body lens in one. Not too ling and has a supersweet bokeh
- Pentax 105mm 2.4 MF, the best portrait lens I ever had! A bit too long for general use, but when used wide-open, this lens gives such a beautiful result!
- Pentax 45mm 2.8 AF, only used for landscapes, larger groups and other wide shots. Also auto-focus, but with this one I tend to manual focus a bit more
- 9 film inserts for fast film loading during ceremonies and other important moments
- Nikon F100 (one body)
- Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4 T* MF. Best 50mm lens for Nikon I ever met!
- Nikon 85mm 1.8 D, my first 85mm and still working like a charm!
- Nikon 28mm 2.8 D, only used for landscapes
- Hasselblad 500 CM. My all time favourite, but only used for personal projects. I don’t use it for weddings
- Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 2.8, supersweet portrait lens
- Sekonic 758DR This one never let me down and allows me to expose my film perfectly! Also has a spot meter and the option to use 2 different ISO ratings at one push of the button
- Moneymaker Tan. Best invention since the camera strap. Allows you to carry to bodies in a comfortable and safe way. Never let me down.
My favourite wedding combo: The Pentax 645N with the 90mm 2.8 hands down.
The Hassy with the 80mm Zeiss is my all-time favourite camera combo. Love the results I get with this one. Just a bit too slow for weddings.
Favourite 35mm combo: Nikon F100 (this one is just perfect in functionality and weight) and the Zeiss 50mm (best lens for Nikon!)
Of course camera’s are important, but the choice of film and lab are as important! For me the film to go is Fujifilm Pro 400H, both medium format and 35mm. When I feel the need to shoot Black and White, Kodak TRI-X 400 is the partner in crime. And when light goes down, there is still the Ilford Delta 3200.
Next to getting the best film stock, the lab you work with is super important. They have to know what you want and you have to understand each other. Without a good communication, no god results. So take your time in finding the right lab for you and build up a good relationship with them in getting the perfect results for you. For me the best solution still is Carmencita film lab. I have tried other labs too, but overall, they deliver me the best results, time schedules and costs. So also here, no need to change a winning horse!
When the light goes down, film shooting gets a bit more difficult from time to time and I don’t want to take the risk to have bad results for my clients. It just happens that venues are truly pitch-dark and then digital is a good tool to get the result you need. Nothing wrong with that!
I come from Nikon DSLR’s, but almost two years ago I tried the Fujifilm mirrorless X-series and the captured my heart. The colours it produces are so close to film, I hardly need to edit them afterwards. Another BIG advantage is the size and weight. And yes, size does matter! I can pack my full digital set into this small Ona shoulder bag, which means a lot!
The digital kit consists at this moment of:
- X-T2 (2 bodies)
- X-Pro2 (1 body)
- Fujinon 35mm 1.4 AF Standard lens, good for all day shooting
- Fujinon 23mm 2.0 AF Wider lens for room and group shots
- Fujinon 50mm 2.0 AF Perfect portrait lens
- Zhongyi Mitakon 35mm 0.95 MF Yes, 0.95, this is such an incredible lens!
My Fujifilm combo to go: the X-T2 with the 35mm Mitakon lens. Perfect light and bokeh!
None of these brands were sponsored and I purely use the cameras and film because they offer me the result I desire. I have had different brands of film cameras (including the so “famous” Contax) but none of them worked like the set I have now. So yes, leaving with this gear gives me confidence!
Hope you found it interesting, but don’t forget. The cameras mentioned above are only “tools”. The vision and inspiration needs to come from you and no-one else. Shooting, experimenting and getting confidence in your gear is way more important than getting the latest gear and the newest gadgets. Once you find your way with a decent kit, build your experience upon this and you will only get better!